Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Pregnant Pauses

Tomorrow Husband and I go in for my "big" ultrasound - the one where they measure every body part and you can elect to find out the sex of your baby(ies). Heck, yeah we are finding out! Any guesses? Here are some possible indicators:

- Lots of dreams/nightmares. Nothing I can recall in particular but none involve children/little animals or anything like that.
- First trimester I felt like I was way more tired than last pregnancy.
- Terrible skin. Worse then when I was in high school. This was not a symptom when I carried the twins (see how I called them the twins, it's creeping in my vocabulary!).
- Hair continues to fall out - no shiny pretty hair for me (but I seem to recall it was only pretty in the third trimester last time). I read that girl babies "suck the beauty" out of you.
- No other symptoms other than dislike of chicken and foot cramps, the latter of which I had forgotten how much I suffered last time. I can still sleep on my stomach but am showing a ton (more on that below).
- We call the baby Spyder. I don't quite recall why that started but there you have it.

I also have to do a gestational diabetes test - if I pass this time I still have to do another in the third trimester. Fingers crossed that I am not inflicted this time because I optimistically threw away my monitor after Ned and Penny were born. Husband asked last night what this kid was going to be allergic to - I shuddered and said, this child had better eat well!

I will be posting a few kid pictures although 90+% of my photos in the last two months are terrible - even with getting a new camera for Christmas. I also have a post in mind about what I vow will be different after Spyder is born.

In the meantime let me related a funny work story:

Last week was my review. I meet with a member of our governing committee after they all get together to discuss the senior associates. I sit down in front of Partner X who is in his 50s with two college kids.

He says "Hello, how are you? It looks like you are expecting?"

WTF? I mean I know I'm showing some and I had to give up on regular pants about 3-4 weeks ago but really, do you say that to someone when it isn't obvious that they might give birth on your office floor?

Of course I said I was and after someone else made an unsolicted pregnancy comment said I decided I needed to tell my department head. He's out this week. I can just imagine all the whispers at our department lunch next week if I don't have a chance to tell him. I bet they wish they could institute a policy like the army on pregnancies.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Worrying Over Words

I mentioned before that Ned and Penny are "behind" on language skills. A few readers asked me how I know if they are behind. It was actually something I had been thinking about and when we went to the kids' 15 month check up a couple of weeks ago the pediatrician agreed that most kids have a few words by this age. She and I agreed we wouldn't worry (yeah, right) until their 18 month appointment. For the record, the kids have said "nanny" but they stopped. They have no other words but Penny can sign "all done" and does so at the most hilarious moments (like when she's throwing a tantrum and doesn't want to being doing so).

Their friend Georgie has a few syllables but she literally tries to talk to you all the time - you can feel the "conversation" and I know that is lacking in my kids.

We talk to Ned and Penny ALL THE TIME. We ask them questions, sing songs, read stories. But for some reason neither kid does much more than grunt and say a few nonsensical syllables (and not consistent enough to consider it language). They don't even point with one finger - they use their whole hands. Penny seems to understand better - she can follow simple instructions. Ned never seems to be able to focus in on doing whatever you asked him to do (bring me that book, where is your sippy cup, etc.).

I can have Ned evaluated for Early Intervention but frankly I don't think it does much. I don't mind paying for Penny to see someone for her gross motor (especially since Ned gets to go to the weekly play group too) but I can't imagine that at this age EI can do too much to get them to talk. At double the cost it isn't worth it for something I don't think will truly benefit him.

Their EI playgroup will be with older kids starting in January and I'm enrolling them in a mixed age (0-5) music group too.

With Penny's gross motor she just needs to get bigger to develop those skills (as evidenced by crawling, using a sippy cup, etc. that she basically figured out on her own). Maybe the pediatrician is right and language will explode in the next month. But for now there is hand pointing and grunting and we just hope for the best.

I've been hiding from playdates as a result and basically avoiding all "mommy milestone" conversations around the office - avoiding as much "comparison" as I can.

Any other ideas? My dad joked that we should have them watch TV. But except for the occasional Mommy-is-completely-wiped-on-Sunday-evening TV isn't part of our routine.

Friday, December 11, 2009


I was feeling pretty good about my ability to take care of kids. Dinner and bedtime by myself with Wife in London? No biggie. I was pretty cocky about being better at changing diapers than most other dads. Figured that I could handle pretty much anything a baby could throw my way--or even two babies. (Those one-baby daddies are a bunch of pansies next to me.) I was the smooth, cool, unflappable Ninja Master of Dads.

I thought all that until last night.

That was the night when all my training and experience came up short. The night when I was just another helpless father. The night it all went wrong. The night I re-learned humility.

It was The Night When Penny Pooped in the Tub.

Thought I'd do a bubblebath...fun change of pace. Both kids playing, splashing happily. Done with Penny, starting to wash Ned. Suddenly, a horrible smell. Penny strangely still and quiet. Oh... Oh, no...


Yank both kids out of the tub. Ned still soapy, unrinsed. Penny suddenly dirty again. Both crawling around the bathroom floor getting things wet (and worse). Me, staring a the turd peeking out of the bubbles, trying to plan my next move. OK, there's the bucket we use to dump water on their heads. Scoop up the turd in that. Well, most of it.

Crap. Now I've got a bucket of water with a rapidly disintegrating Penny poop. What do I do with it? WHAT DO I DO?

I stand there trying to figure out how to deal with the situation. Crazy ideas go through my head. Strain out the turd somehow to throw it away. Toss the whole bucket in the yard. Kitchen garbage disposal, maybe? WHAT THE HELL DO I DO WITH THIS POOP BUCKET!?!??

Oh, right. There's a toilet right there. That'll work.

The rest of the incident was straightforward, trying to quickly clean the worst out of the tub and rewash the kids. But the damage to my confidence was done. I just froze up in the moment of crisis. Useless in the face of disaster.

I guess it turns out I'm just as helpless as the next dad. At least I was last night, The Night When Penny Pooped in the Tub.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Overcoming Writers Block

I've been terrible about posting the last couple of months. I could blame my job but I spend plenty of time vegging on the couch - without my laptop. Lack of photos has been a contributing factor. Ned and Penny 15 months aren't quite a photogenic as Ned and Penny 7 months (evidence of previous cuteness below).

In an attempt to overcome my writers block I will write about a few new kid "tricks".

Penny: She likes to use a spoon and a fork - technique is still evolving of course. Often she'll pick up some food, break off a small piece, put that part on the tray table and eat the rest. Not sure what she spots in there!

Ned: He still enjoys sitting and flipping through books and has learned to push buttons, turn knobs and climb on couches. He will spin around in a circle when he is happy.

Both kids: Jealousy and competition have starting to appear. Both want to be on top of the climber and whine about it but sometimes Penny will let Ned be up there and they will laugh at each other through the window openings. If Penny is in my lap (she has started climbing in all the time), then Ned will insist on coming over for a hug... and to push Penny out of the way. There seems to be more whining/grabbing toys, books, sippy cups out of the other kid's hands.

Any advice on how to handle the green-eyed monster?

Friday, December 4, 2009

WARNING: You Must Be Sitting Down to Read This Post

It's been hard not blogging about this but it is time to let you all in on my not very well-kept secret:

Due Date: June 4, 2010

Just one. I know I've spoken on How Do You Do It about having another (or two). But I really didn't expect it to happen so quickly given how long it took me to get pregnant with Ned and Penny. No fertility treatments, just plenty of relaxing nights (before work got busy) and wine. Bye, bye, vino...

For all my work friends please keep this on the down-low - I'm not planning on telling work until after New Year's. It will be hard to be the FOURTH woman in my department to announce an upcoming maternity leave - especially since my tykes will only be 21 months old when the new one arrives. But as one wise attorney told me - "I make every small decision every day focusing on my work so I'm not going to let work dictate the big decisions."

One funny Mom of Multiples item to reflect on - I've started referring to Ned and Penny as my "twin" pregnancy when normally I don't call them the "twins" - I guess it is a way to differentiate between the two pregnancies.

My friend Helen remarked - "You do realize that you are going to have three kids under 2 years old?" "Only for a couple of months," I replied. How's that for positive attitude?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Careful, Do You Want to Lose an Eye?

Monday was Nanny April's birthday and Penny helped April open her gift. "Helping" included poking April in the eye with the corner of a birthday card. Tuesday morning April (who has NEVER taken a sick day) called to say she had to go to the doctors. Diagnosis: Torn cornea. She has to go back to the doctor's on Thursday and is on pain meds, taped eye and can't drive.

So that leaves the Esqs scrambling a little. I stayed home yesterday missing a department meeting but work was otherwise slow so it was okay. Grammy offered to help but she has a million errands/appointments and is recovering from major surgery (did I mention my mom donated a KIDNEY to a friend a few weeks ago?) so she was only able to come for a couple of hours.

Today through Friday the kids are in my back-up daycare which means 45 mins of traffic (or more) each way, preparing bottles, packing bags, having to lug all there stuff (forgot Penny's medicine), pick them up for lunch since daycare doesn't provide more than snacks, and leaving work promptly at 5:30 pm. I don't know how everyone else does this every day! We are spoiled by having a nanny.

We also had to do a bit of research on our worker's compensation insurance. For now we'll cover co-pays (maybe take it out of Penny's 529 plan?) and give her paid sick time off. If it goes beyond 5 days though we have to notify the state. Penny will be giving April a "sorry" card - with the corners cut off.

I'm also trying to take Saturday through Tuesday off, since Husband and I are going away for TWO NIGHTS! WOOT! And yes, I had to specify on my availability that I wasn't available on Saturday or Sunday - weekends are NOT sacred in my profession. I was going to take the whole week but as is always true if I don't have plane tickets I end up working.

Finally, kid update: I took them for their 15 month checkup yesterday. By myself! First time I've done anything with both of them alone out of the house in a long time. Ned weighs in at 22 lbs, 6 oz (25%), 31 inches (25%) tall and 18 inch head (25%). It always makes me laugh when people think he's "so big" - he is ... compared to Penny. She is 17 lbs, 5 oz, 29 inches tall and 17.25 inch head; no percentages of course. We delayed the MMR and varicella vaccines on my personal theory that if they are recommended for kids that are a minimum of 12 months old shouldn't said child weigh as much as a 12 month old? Penny weighs about the average of a 6-7 month old.

Some guilt tripping on not brushing their teeth every night (we hit about 60%) and starting to use utensils. Ned is behind on language/comprehension skills so we are going to keep an eye on it for 3 more months and then call EI if he hasn't made some good progress.

Pictures to come soon, I promise!

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Esqs Catch a Break

I just got off the phone with Penny's pulminologist. He reviewed her sleep study and she is much improved. She had only 5 apnea events per hour (down from 28.5x an hour) and her O2 sats ran in the low 90s most of the night but only dipped into 86% once. Apparently Penny is diagnosed with some condition that means her O2 runs low all the time while sleeping - and there is no known reason for it. But all of that said the doctor feels comfortable that she can go off the oxygen.

Once a week we are going to test her baseline but with the understanding that her home monitor cannot tell us the "quality" of the data (they can in the fancy lab) - e.g., sometimes she sets if off by moving around. We are also going to keep the O2 tank and supplies for when she has a cold or any other indication that her breathing is not 100%. I'm also going to keep a close eye on her energy levels (one immediate benefit we saw when she first when on O2).

For the last five months we have been putting the nasal cannula over her head, leaving Duoderms on her pretty face, listening to her (rightfully) complain about the arm restraints she can't pull off in the morning, the beeping (oh, God, the beeping!) and it seems unreal that this is becoming part of Penny's medical HISTORY.

It's making me a little weepy.

P.S. Husband said that Penny kept wriggling her toe where we usually put the monitor probe...looked up at him...and smiled. Damn, weepy again.

Let Them Eat Spaghetti

After a grueling two weeks I'm back in America. One of the annoying side effects of traveling for work is that you end up spending so much more money - even when expenses are reimbursed. There is the tip here and there for taxis, the coffee that didn't seem worth submitting, and the duty free treats I picked up in an exhausted haze to say "I love you!" to Husband and the tykes. And let's not even get started on the tons of overtime we paid our nanny so Husband could get to work in the morning (when I usually have time with the kids) and to cover one night when he was getting back from a NYC business trip.

When I got Ned out of his crib Saturday morning he was whimpering and crying. I brought him downstairs and said "You have an ear infection". A few hours later it was confirmed and the poor little guy spent the day crying despite ibuprofen and antibiotics. Don't worry, he's back to his cheery self. Isn't it crazy how moms always know? I suspect Penny will get one soon since she is almost over the 3 week cold they both had.

Speaking of Penny we still haven't gotten her test results from the sleep lab (she's still on O2) but Dr. Katz, her GI specialist said her inflammation in the esophagus is down 75% and that the remaining 25% down at the bottom of her esophagus is likely reflux (not allergies). Whether that means she does have allergies and her being off soy, milk, beef, chicken, peas and peanuts was helping or if merely having her on tons of omeprazole was what improved her condition we don't know. She doesn't have to be scoped for another year so we'll probably have to keep the dietary restrictions going. By and large it isn't that hard but dairy and chicken would be nice to add to her diet. Penny was re-evaluated for Early Intervention. She may have squeaked by to qualify for "feeding" (because she takes small bites and doesn't really chew) but was automatically admitted because of a nice scary letter Dr. Katz wrote with lots of capitalized terms like Failure to Thrive and Esophageal Esophagitis. Husband weighs the kids on the Wii - they each have a "pet" Mii - Penny is about 16.5 lbs and Ned is almost 22 lbs. Husband managed to secure dose 1 for their seasonal flu and H1N1 but I was told we may not get the second dose for weeks...

Both kids are on a veggie strike (not that they ate that many to begin with) and Penny has turned into a carb fiend. Current favorite is spaghetti. Next food project is working on forks - it's not going to well and I wish we had a dog at mealtimes.

Our nanny is also going to transition them to one nap in early January. We are keeping it to 1 hour in the morning to help ease them into it. Penny prefers a morning nap, Ned an afternoon nap so it's been a little rough keeping them on the same schedule.

Consider yourselves updated! Hopefully I'll have some time to reflect over Thanksgiving about my Career and The Juggle and I'll post more about that.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Pit Stop In Mommy, Esq.'s Race Around The World

This is the longest I have ever gone between posts. I had a whirlwind trip home to Boston last weekend and now I'm working crazy hours again in London after catching a redeye on Sunday night. I billed 180 hours in 2 weeks to give you some idea of my schedule.

When I saw Ned on Saturday morning I was hoping for a "Mama!" that did not materialize but I did get extra hugs to fill me with maternal love. I enjoyed the time I had with them, took two naps when they did and repacked my bag.

Husband is all alone this week - and with a business trip today to boot. It has been an exciting transaction and a great learning experience but I'm ready to be home and to start thinking about long-term work/family issues.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Hi, Mommy!

TO: Mommy, Esq.
FROM: Edmund and Penelope
DATE: 9 November 2009
RE: Weekend with Daddy

Despite expectations to the contrary, all is well at home. We miss you, but Daddy did fine on his own. He let us have tasty cinnamony sugar twists for a snack--in our playroom! While we were still wearing jammies at 3 in the afternoon!

This had certain unfortunate consequences, viz., a substantial mess of crumbs and spilled milk and formula. Also, Penny briefly turned into a zombie and tried to eat Daddy's brains. Sweet, sweet, cinnamony braaaaaains. (She got better.)

Later, after a trip to Home Depot (still in jammies!), we ate dinner. Penelope enjoyed her pork sauerbraten, and especially her couscous. It stuck to her ribs. And arms, and hands, and face, and hair, and the wall.

We will continue to report back periodically during your trip. Make sure you get out to see London; we hear the Indian food is excellent. Perhaps Daddy can give us some now that he won't have to deal with the curry-filled diapers. Cheerio!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Parenting From Across the Pond

Work decided to complicate the Juggling I mentioned by sending me on a flight to London on Friday evening. I'm almost adjusted to the time change but it won't matter when we are working 20+ hour days until next Friday. This is my first business trip and it is tough that I had no advance notice to plan. My in-laws are flying in on Wednesday to help with the hospital testing for Penny and because Husband has a business trip on Friday he didn't want to cancel. I feel immensely better having them come - and it alleviates a lot of "poor Husband" guilt.

Many props to Husband but since this is my blog I wanted to mention some benefits of business trips.
  • Not my problem. It is sad but true - there is not much I can do from here. I feel for Husband that he has to refill Penny's formula prescription, drive to doctor's appointments, etc. but there is nothing I can do about it.
  • Just me. No O2 monitor going off, no noises as a kid stirs over the baby monitor. Just me and my alrarm forcing me out of bed each morning. Only me to shower, dress and feed.
  • Focus on work. I am all about this deal. There is no distraction about needing to be home for bedtime or taking care of them in the morning. A deal is like a newborn since I can only eat and sleep in snatches here and there but it is nice to re-focus on work (hopeful that this travel/work all the time is a temporary situation).
  • No commute. I actually have to take a taxi from my hotel to our office but it isn't that long a commute (few miles).

I'm trying to use the time to focus clearly on my work and hope that the kids don't change too much in my absence. Whether this is a life I can lead from here on out is another question for another blog post.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Example of The Juggle

I mentioned that I'm on a deal based out of London and also much busier than I have been since returning to work. This is taking the Esq. Juggle to a whole new level. Today Husband and I were discussing arrangements for next week - to fit in kids' doctors appointment, a nanny doctor appoint (I think she's had to leave work early only 4 times since she's started working for us) and bedtime coverage. All kids' doctors visits and early release days for April are in both our Outlooks to keep track but sometimes you have to plan ahead when it will be a busy week. More on Penny to come since as you can see she has a sleep schedule (still needs O2) and another endoscopy (still not much weight gain) planned.

From: Husband
Sent: Thursday, November 05, 2009 10:36 AM
To: Mommy, Esq
Subject: Re:

Monday: nothing special
Tuesday: I come home early to cover for April’s doctor appt.
Wednesday: I work from home or come home by noon for kids’ flu shots, then work from home in afternoon, then take Penny to MEEI for sleep study. You’ll relieve April (late?)
Thursday: I’m at MGH with Penny. You cover morning; I should be back for evening assuming all goes well. After bedtime, I have to drive to client in CT.
Friday: [You cover morning.] I’m in CT until early afternoon; should be able to make it back for bedtime…but better if you can cover just in case.

Clearly most of The Juggle next week belongs to Husband but it will come around again soon!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Lately I've been having to give myself quite a few "pep talks" to do things that my natural lazy tendency is rebelling against.

This morning was typical. I heard Ned some time after 5 am (stupid time change didn't go as well as previously declared). Around 6 am I was having the following conversation: "Cute Ned noises. He must be hungry. Must go get bottles. Get out of bed. Come on, get your butt out of bed, what are you going to do, starve your children? Ned is saying "Dadadada" - will Husband take the hint? Get your lazy butt out of bed!". [And finally out of bed to feed the kids after Husband did go get the bottles (he went back to bed).]

Then in the building garage after sitting in too much traffic: "Maybe I'll just shut my eyes for a minute. Ugh, I'm sure there are a million things I can be doing in the office. I can get through the day. Sure, I have no idea when this deal is going to explode but I'll survive it. What if I just stayed in the car all day? Open the door and get out of the car!"

I think my other self has something to say about my decision to blog instead of work but I plan on shutting her up with some lunch in about 10 minutes.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Team Building

Husband traipsed downstairs in dark jeans and a dark shirt this morning instead of his french cuff shirts (with cufflinks) and trousers. On the agenda - team building laser tag with lunch after. He was explaining his military strategies to me. I hope he has fun.

Big Firm is not a culture of team building exercises but I enjoy hearing about them. What sort of team building activities does your workplace engage in? Any "trust falls" still in the mix (loved that part of "Mean Girls").

I think we should try to do more Esq. team building. Working around nap schedules and crappy weekend weather has left us bereft of weekend activities and the whole family is pretty cranky by Sunday afternoon. Any family team building suggestions for a crawler, walker and two adults is welcome!

Sunday, November 1, 2009


This Halloween I appreciated what it means to be a working mom. I've been stressed about my job all week - working crazy hours, stressed and fed up even when I'm not working. I have managed to be pretty upbeat around the kids and try to be "in the moment". They adjusted well to the time change - we took them out to dinner on Halloween for distraction purposes and they went to bed about 30 mins late. By Sunday afternoon they were back on track for naps and mealtimes. Since my deal is based in London Husband is having to take over for mornings starting tomorrow since I'll be at the office for a 7 am call. I have never understood why things have to happen at the speed of light but at least they aren't sending me to London (the partners went) ... yet.

One reason I've been terrible about posting photos is that the kids are always in motion and I need a better camera to catch them in action. Here are some photos showcasing their costumes - Ned was too hot in his and Penny kept pulling off her ladybug cape and refused to wear her booties but I think they liked playing "dress up".

Scotia made a rare appearance in the playroom - maybe as a Halloween treat for the kids?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


The day I've been waiting for has arrived!!! The first-ever Kids.Woot-off is happening! It's finally happening!



The Three Stoogies

The kids have started to develop a sense of humor, but it isn't exactly highbrow. Penny hits herself on the side of her head after making sure you are watching and expects you to laugh. And both kids think Daddy's "hurting himself" shtick is pure comic genius.

Unrelated cute photos:

Friday, October 23, 2009

Morning Laughter

Morning is my time with the kids. I discovered a word that will make them laugh every time they hear it. What makes your mornings fun with your kids?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Way-Back Wednesday: Halloween, Twin Style

We are looking forward to the annual moms of twins club Halloween Party this weekend. It feels like just yesterday that Ned and Penny wore these Halloween costumes. This year Penny will try to stay awake.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pumpkin Picking

We spent the long weekend in Maine. The beautiful fall weather inspired us to find a farm to check out some pumpkins. The tykes' friend Georgie (aka, The Duchess) came along for the trip. We found a pumpkin the exact shape of Husband's head to carve.

I really wanted a great shot of my two kids but since Ned has started toddling around he would not stay still!

Penny just held on to a giant pumpkin for dear life.

Family photo:

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Friday, October 9, 2009

Phone Photo Friday

I saved this one from last Sunday. Ned saw his first pumpkin!

Play along with Laura!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Let's Hope it isn't a Fluke - Penny Update

Penny enjoyed a day without Ned yesterday - no one to pull her hair, steal her toys or plow her over when she happened to be in his path of destruction. She spent the day at my backup daycare since she had an alleregy appointment late morning. I won't bore you other than to say that this little girl rebounds well from scratch tests and blood work and daycare deemed her a "social butterfly".

She weighed in at 15lbs, 10oz yesterday - up 10oz from a little less than a month ago. All the bread she scarfs down must be helping. If only a veggie would make its way into her mouth...

We normally put Penny to sleep with her toe probe on (we test to make sure it is working) and then leave the monitor off and let her fall asleep for an hour or so and then go and put on her arm restraints and the O2. Last night I turned the O2 monitor on and it stayed around 95/96% so I decided to leave her alone. It was around the same level when I turned in at 10 pm. The monitor is set to go off at 88%. At 4:30 am the monitor went off and Husband checked on her - her level had already gone up to 96% again by the time he got in there.

We have now officially had our first night without oxygen!! Keep your fingers crossed that this keeps up.

P.S. I should also mention that the adenoidectomy has helped her breathing overall - she's not as snorty and a much more quieter sleeper (although still snores a little bit). The other big benefit is the lack of snot. Penny basically had a runny nose for the last four months - we wiped it all day long and I really don't want to think about what she looked like in the morning. She has been drippy-snot free! I swear, writing this all down will come back and bite me in the ass.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Would You Say That to YOUR Mother?

Last night I went to a Big Firm recruiting dinner. A nice candidate from Boston College and a securities law partner newly minted as of last year. I should mention that I wasn't the biggest fan of this partner when he was an associate. A few years ago a partner took several associates to a Bruins game (my first) and this then-associate INSISTED on paying for everyone's dinner. It was all very awkward.

Anyway, he has 2 kids, one Ned and Penny's age, and a stay-at-home wife in the 'burbs. I mentioned that I was going to my alma mater on Saturday to judge a negotiation competition. He said "wow, you must really prefer not to see your kids." Do you think he would have said that to a male senior associate? Don't you wonder how often he sees his kids? What do you think his wife would have said if she had heard him say that?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Penny May Be the Next Suri Cruise

Hello, my name is Mommy, Esq. and my thirteen month twins still use bottles.

Before I went back to work I fretted quite a bit about feeding and the kids' development milestones. I make no bones about the fact that I worry significantly less now that I'm at work. When I see the kids for about 2 hours a day (tops) do I want to tie myself in knots about Penny's inability to eat a vegetable or that she has maybe taken 5 sips out a sippy cup in her entire life? And sure, Ned COULD go without his very small bedtime bottle but after wrestling our dinosaur-monster into his diaper and jammies it calms him down.

My friend Helen used to complain that Suri Cruise was 2 and there were photos of her in US Weekly with a bottle. We just hide our camera during bottle time. No evidence so if we do manage to "wean" them before college no one will ever be the wiser.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Paging Neddy Bear

Neddy Bear, my teddy bear - when did you get so grown up? It may sound crazy but between Saturday and Sunday you look like you grew two inches and your hands and feet got longer. Completely unprompted by me both your Grandpa and Nanny April said the same thing!

I miss my little snuggler who would gently touch my face and coo at me. This little boy that has appeared out of thin air is willful and not always very nice to his sister. He screams bloody murder when we try to get him dressed for bed but if we let him roam the (unbabyproofed) portions of the house he'll reward us with happy shrieks. This little boy still eats well but he likes to throw food and sippy cups on the floor and laugh when you tell him "no" and pout when he doesn't get his way.

Thanks, Neddy Bear, for introducing the Esq. Family to The Toddler Years.

Monday, September 28, 2009

New Stroller: Review of Chicco Twin Trevi

I had been contemplating buying a twin umbrella stroller for months. Just for those occasions when one parent or the nanny needs to take both kids on an errand or a play group. Our Bob stroller is great - but it is heavy and a bit unweildy to get in and out of the car. The Bob is more for walking/parks then for malls/stores. I went to the Baby Furniture Warehouse in Reading and impulsively bought the cheapest stroller they had - a Chicco Twin Trevi (for $180 with sales tax- stupid increased sales tax, "temporary" my ass).

We tested the new stroller out last night at the Burlington Mall with a stop for dinner at Legal Seafood's where the kids didn't eat any fish or nicely grilled veggies but did gobble up french fries (sigh).

1. Maneuverability. Very good - the front wheels can be locked or freely swivel. Perfect for running the kids in circles when their daddy is off trying on Gap clothes and they are cranky. It also fits through doorways and elevators much, much more easily than the Bob. That is the primary reason why I got the new stroller.

2. Collapsible. Also very good. I had the guy in the store show me twice and it is no problem. You can't do it with one hand but hey, my kids can wait in their car seats while I set it up and put it away. And it folds small enough that it fits next to the captain chair in the middle seat instead of in the way back.

3. Seats. Narrow. Ned and Penny were able to play tug of war on Ned's lovey (which he thought was hysterical). But they "sit up" very well - I like a less reclined seat so they can see more. It also reclines at least 45 degrees (I didn't put it all the way back so it may recline further) if you like that feature.

4. Handles. I would have preferred one handle but a double collapsible umbrella stroller with one handle for cheap is pretty much impossible to find. The height is not adjustable but it is fine for my husband (5' 10'') and me (5' 3'').

5. Storage. It is even better than the Bob. One basket under each kid and very easy to get to for shopping bags or diaper bags. And there is an adult cupholder!

6. Sun/rain cover. This will mostly be an indoor stroller so we didn't even attach it but they looked pretty deep and were individual (which I don't really care about).

7. Straps. This is the feature I actively dislike about the stroller and not one I thought to "try out" in the store. The straps themselves are fine - they seem comfortable enough - but it is a pain to actually snap the straps into the harness. I had to move the fabric cover off the harness point to more easily snap them into place. They are also tough to unsnap. If anyone has handy tricks how to deal with this flaw I'd appreciate it.

8. Durability. The fabric seems durable and only time will tell about the wheels, but I don't expect to be out in the woods or non-pavement surfaces with this stroller so I think it will do just fine.

While I do not want to have buyer's remorse I'd still be interested in hearing what umbrella/store strollers you like.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

None For Daddy

When Husband decides he wants breakfast after the kids have eaten they usually decide a second breakfast is in order. Mommy, Esq. is smart enough to eat her breakfast standing up in the kitchen while cleaning up kids' breakfast. This reminds me of when I was a kid my mom always complained she never got a cup of Tab (and later Diet Coke) to herself. What food item do you find impossible to eat around your kids?

Friday, September 25, 2009

First Word and Cute Phone Pic

It took me a week or so to accept it but Ned is saying his first real word! Both kids have said "all done" occasionally but not consistently so I decided that phrase didn't count. Ned is obsessed with animals - he squeals in delight with dogs and shrieks with joy at the sight of Scotia. "Kitty" is his first word. He crawls toward her saying "titty, titty" (hee!) but you can sort of hear a "k" too.

I have yet to test if he understand that word with respect to all cats or just Scotia. Don't you love "experimenting" on your kids? What was your kid(s)'s first word?

Also, Penny loves sticking her tongue out - but she always puts it to the side. Here's a mobile phone photo to play along with Laura's Phone Fridays.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Where is My 80s Teen Movie Music Montage?

I love teeny-bopper movies. And no movie is complete without the music montage that shows the heroine (or hero) making efforts to succeed, all set to inspirational music. When I get a little worn down by the effort of "figuring life out" I wish I had a musical montage to step in and show me the way. The song choice is different from my "theme" song. Currently I'm thinking "Eye of the Tiger". What would your musical montage song choice be?

Ned and Penny went to their friend Harry's first birthday this past weekend at a park. Harry's wagon was a big hit - although Penny was a bit unsure when both Harry and Ned decided to push her. Don't they look adorable in their fleece jackets my mom got them at LL Bean?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Penny Surgery News

Husband here...

Good news--Penelope's surgery went just fine. I'm sure Wife will have more details for everyone, since she's been at the hospital dealing with everything. Wife is still there now, since they're keeping Penny overnight for observation, but not for any particular issue...just general precaution. I think they just couldn't bear to see such a cute little girl go. (We need to post pictures/video of her sticking her tongue out. Adorable.)

Special thanks to Wife's Mom for helping out yesterday and going to the hospital with Wife today, and to everyone for the thoughts, prayers, calls, and e-mails wishing Penny well.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Phone Photo Friday

Uncle Andrew took this of Ned in Maine during our long weekend there. Too bad neither kid actually likes wearing a hat for any extended period of time.

I've been lacking on the posting front but lots has been going on - after work commitments, job worries, organizing our home office (yeah!) and general "life crap". Penny's surgery is Monday so I'll update when we are back home. Have a nice weekend!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Cheers to the IRS. Jeers to Mass DOR.

Husband here...

If you know me personally, you're probably as surprised as I am to hear me say the first part. But really, I mean it. (You're probably not at all surprised by the second part, though.)

It all comes back to those pesky Nanny-related taxes. Overall, the feds have been just fine to deal with. A single taxing authority, everything handled easily electronically, and fully integrated into Intuit Online Payroll. (I still hate paying so much in taxes, but at least they make it straightforward.) The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, on the other hand, is a pain in the ass. Multiple taxing authorities, cumbersome and confusing online tools, multiple ridiculous forms...and nothing gets handled automatically by Intuit.

Two interactions this week (by mail) have really sealed the deal.

Over the weekend, I got a letter from the IRS. (Crap.) Turns out they were notifying me about a penalty I owed for paying the Nanny's withholding tax a couple weeks late last month. Which I absolutely did, and knew I was late and would owe a penalty when I did it. (Slipped my mind when I was working through our Vineyard vacation, you know?) But the letter was to let me know they were waiving the penalty (~$100, so not chump change), and just letting me go with a warning to please pay up promptly next time. Who ever expected to be surprised and delighted by the IRS?

And then today, the Mass. Department of Revenue weighs in. Nothing to do with late payments; their deadlines are different and I paid them on time. No, they say I owe them $1,200 in back taxes, interest, and penalties for failing to file in JANUARY--before our Nanny even started with us. Ridiculous. Now I presumably have to prove somehow that she WASN'T working for us then. You know, I think one of the many forms I've had to send in specifically required you to specify the start date for each of your employees--but that one went to the Dept. of Workforce Training, or something. They apparently don't chat so much with DOR. So this is just one more thing to deal with.

All in all, nice work Mass DOR. Bad enough to steal my money (and the Nanny's, with me as your agent) at gunpoint. But do you have to make it such a hassle?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Sugar and Everything Nice

Many parents are concerned about the amount of sugar their kids ingest. At a year old though my kids haven't had much by way of sugar. Sodium, now that's another frustrating matter entirely, but I digress.

I was thrilled to find Cherrybrook Kitchens makes a cake and frosting mix that doesn't contain soy and we substituted butter flavored Crisco for margin (which by the way does have milk in it and I've never been able to find this "dairy free" margerine the boxes talk about - even at Whole Foods). Husband even checked to make sure that "butter flavor" mentioned in the Crisco doesn't have dairy - according to the Interwebs people have called and the company says it does not.

At their birthday party the kids had their very first cupcakes complete with frosting. I admit the cupcakes were sort of "oily" but hey, when you are dealing with allergies you do what you can. They both loved the treats! Think of the calories that Penny ingested! By the way, Husband was annoyed because I didn't give him advance warning and he didn't record the candle blowing out or birthday song. Next year, kids!

Speaking of allergies, I think I forgot to mention that Penny's skin tests were inconclusive - including the histamine control which is supposed to react - so we had to do blood tests. She tested "positive" for allergy to chicken, beef, peas and peanuts. Rice, eggs, potatoes and wheat are okay, thank goodness. We are keeping her off turkey too since that is often hand-in-hand (beak-in-beak?) with chicken allergies. Soy and milk were negative but they want us to keep her off those anyway - apparently all allergy testing that shows a negative result isn't conclusive. We have more tests in her future since they only tested for 11 items.

I bribed Ned at Whole Foods today with a cookie - worked like a charm. It was organic so that's good, right? Heee!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Endless Beeping

The beeping is driving us crazy. Back when Penny went on oxygen she couldn't roll or crawl - she slept on her back and pretty much left the nasal cannula alone. Fast forward two months and we have a very different and determined little girl...who "desats" all night long - starting when we sit down for dinner. As her pulminologist understated "oxygen can be challenging in kids her age". It is much worse dealing with the damn beeping than the 2x a night crying/feeding I did when they were infants.

My blog has a limited audience but I think if anyone else has to deal with this (I'm starting to feel like we are the only parents in this situation) they might be happy to have our "experiments" to help them.
  • Mask. We started using a mask instead of a nasal cannula because it was easier to readjust it in the middle of the night (instead of taping the nasal cannula). If you up the O2 level it can function a bit like a "blow-by". But Penny is a stomach sleeper and turns her head a lot so we had to go in to adjust it all the time. We have now pretty much abandoned the mask.
  • Duaderm on her cheeks (near nose), one tegaderm on top, then cannula, then another tegaderm to secure it. The nurse advised this but Penny still pulls them off.
  • Pediatric arm restraints. Husband hates them but I think they do work. Last night after our 15th trip into the room I put them on her, then taped the nasal cannula in place. I didn't have to go in there again. By the time we went in (at 7:30 am!) she had managed to remove one restraint. When the other came off she sat up and pulled the tape/cannula off before I even had the chance to do so.

  • Cannula behind the head. We are supposed to secure it under her chin. Making it a million times easier to pull off. I guess there is a chocking risk about having it behind her head (because when she pulls it off it goes around her neck) but since she is on a heart/O2 monitor it is hard to get really exercised about that risk.
  • Cutting the nasal cannula. We cut off the prongs. Her nose is runny (has been for 3 months) and she was always rubbing at her nose when the prongs were in. Instead the nasal cannula "holes" are just under her nose. Since she is also a mouth breather some O2 could also make its way into her mouth. Husband is going to try to take a tube and glue it to a pacifier to see if she'll keep it in that way.
  • Trading "shifts". We keep thinking this is a "temporary" situation and have been dealing with it on an ad-hoc basis. Lots of sighing and "can you go in this time" conversations. We need to be better about "assigning" nights so the other parent can get some rest (maybe in the guest room so he/she isn't subject to the endless beeping?).

Our pulmonologist is trying to move up her surgery (not looking likely) and offered to check her into the hospital if we need a break. I think that is a waste of medical resources and would be tough on us as a family. I'd love to have an oxygen tent but they aren't used any more because of fire risk.

The crazy thing is that I know I'm going to miss the monitor when it hopefully (God, please) is gone. It's a constant reassurance that my baby girl is alive. I suspect once it is gone I'll be getting out of bed to check on them both more often like I did before Penny went on oxygen.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

It Really Was a Labor Weekend For the Grandparents

We finally took the kids up to my parents' house in Maine on Sebago Lake. Summer plans, sick kids, difficulty traveling while on O2 all conspired to push our first visit out until the last unofficial weekend of the summer.

My parents really brought their A-Game. The kids were fed and entertained and Husband and I got some down time. As you can see we needed it:

Penny spent lots of quality time with her Bumpa.

Ned was stuffed full of Sunday pancake breakfast made by Grammy.

The tykes enjoyed various "adult" activities including a ride in a motor boat, splashing in a jacuzzi and playing with wine (ahem, corks). My parents started to appreciate what it means to "baby-proof" a room again.

I am a bit hesitant about next year when they are walking since the house is nothing but outdoor rocks (with fall-offs into the water) and rock-made stairs but I'm sure we'll go up for at least a couple of weekends.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Countdown Clock

I was going to title this post Monday Meandering or Monday Musings but then I realized it was Tuesday.

1. We saw signs for a million yard sales in Maine and I really don't get them. In my mind all they do is transfer crap from one house to another. Theme sales - all baby stuff or something are fine, but the yard sales we saw were more along the lines of "look, here is all the crap I've accumulated for the last 10 years and don't want to keep around any more so give me $5". I'm really anti-clutter so it probably affects my point of view. If I can I donate to charity and the rest we throw away.

2. Husband and I have been up 12+ times a night for what feels like weeks with a Little Lady who will not keep a nasal cannula in or an O2 mask (that we aren't supposed to be using) on her face. After a THREE MINUTE (no joke) meeting with Penny's ENT (I mean, come on, can't we do this crap by phone instead of taking 1/2 a day off work and dragging her into Boston) - her adenoidectomy has been scheduled for Monday, September 21. Since we don't have a time yet I am counting down to bedtime.

3. After spending time considering what food he ate that could possibly result in the rash on Ned's hands and feet our Nanny pointed out he has hand, foot and mouth disease. Husband and I were all "d'oh!".* You know Penny is going to get it. I refuse to bring him to the doctors - it's a virus and there is nothing they can do about it other than charge me a $20 co-pay.

*There was going to be this awesome pic to illustrate but it has crashed my computer 4 times.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Stats and Schedules

The kids saw the pediatrician on Friday. Penny weighed in at 15 lbs, 4 oz, 28.5 inches tall and 17 inches for head. Obviously not on the growth curve chart but starting to grow so I'm happy. Ned weighed in at 20 lbs, 15 oz, 29.25 inches tall and 18.25 inches for head - 25% across the board (except his head which was 50%). We all really expected him to be bigger - I guess the comparison to Penny makes him seem large.

I haven't done a "schedule" post since this one in February but I've been thinking about their schedule for a while - it has obviously changed in the last 7 months and now we're transitioning Ned to milk/sippy/straw cups. We have to keep Penny on her special formula and she doesn't do well on the sippy cup. Fortunately if Ned has his straw cup he doesn't seem jealous of Penny's bottle. So here is the rundown at year old*:

6:00-6:30: Wake up. Usually Ned first and Penny sometimes sleeps until 7:00. Diaper changes and bottles with 10 mins of waking up (small one for Ned). Eventually this will be a straw cup for Ned but I'm not ready to let the bottle go. Husband flits in and out but basically gets ready for work.

7:15: Breakfast. Some days I strip Ned down and let him practice feeding himself yogurt (it can be disastrous). Penny will only eat Os or 1/2 a breakfast bar. If they are up early we may do breakfast as early as 7:00 am.

7:30 am: I get the kids ready in the playroom - put them in clothes, "brush" their teeth. Play time until 8:30 am.

8:30 am: Husband leaves; Nanny April arrives. I get ready for work. If they sleep "late" I shower before they get up - I pretty much get up at 6:30 unless someone (ahem, Mr. Ned!) makes me get up earlier.

9:00 am: I leave for office. Kids go down for naps around 9:30 am.

11:00 am: Up from naps. Penny gets a bottle; Ned gets a straw cup with whole milk. We tried to have him in the highchair in the other room while she did her bottle but she kept getting distracted.

11:20ish am: Lunch. Penny eats a Pringle, throws the other real food on the floor. Ned chows.

11:40 - 1:30 pm: Playtime.

1:30-3:30 pm: Nap.

3:30 pm: Bottle for Penny; Ned gets straw cup with whole milk. Small snack after in their highchairs.

4:00 pm: Walk, then play time.

5:30 pm: Nanny April prepares dinner for Ned. Husband comes home if not travelling.

5:45/6 pm: Penny gets bottle. Ned has dinner with straw cup of milk. Penny joins him in the highchair around 6 pm and throws her food on the floor unless we give her puffs or dried fruit. Pretty sure she hasn't had a vegetable in about 2 months.

6:30 pm: Bathtime. I try to sneak in some playtime if I get home from work - it makes me feel relaxed and happy. When Husband does bedtime alone (most nights) the kids go straight from highchairs to bathtub.

6:45 pm: Dressed, bottles (only 4 ounces for Ned; whatever Penny didn't eat at 5:45 pm) and brush teeth (we are struggling with that one).

7:00 pm: Lights out after book and song.

9:00 pm-4:30 am: Penny pulls out her nasal cannula 5-10 times until we give up and take it off her and shut off the O2 monitor.

*Note: This does not include Penny's medicine regime.

Current favorite obsessions - "book nook" and my old sunglasses. They will spend 15-30 mins just flipping through books. It's incredible.

Monday, August 31, 2009

We Love You, Grandpa

My paternal grandfather passed away Sunday night. As my sister Stacey already wrote, we were lucky to live close to both sets of grandparents. Grandpa survived the loss of his only daughter Donna to cancer - something no parent ever wants. We used to spend summers taking dips in their pool and in their summer home in Marion. He taught us how to fish and let us pull off his fake beard when he dressed up as Santa Claus every Christmas. Although he never went to college he provided for his family and all his went to college. Grandpa got the chance to meet his great-grandkids this Christmas.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Grinch Who Stole Their Birthday

I'm going to tell you a badly kept secret - we didn't buy our kids any birthday presents. Evite, backyard BBQ (which will move indoors thanks to Danny), no presents. I think that about sums up our approach to their birthday.

Grandparents (and great grandparents) were exempt from the rule because, well, they are grandparents and you can't stop them anyway.

My mom and dad sent the kids a climber at Nanny April's suggestions. The top part is a bit small for him to turn around easily but they both like it. Ned even helped his dad put it together. All their "baby" toys are now gone from the playroom - jumparoo, bouncy chairs, exersaucer. It certaintly heralded the era of mobility that has descended on the Esqs.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

12 Months

On Tuesday Ned and Penny celebrated the successful conclusion of the first year (of many) training Mommy, Esq. and Husband to be parents.



Dear Ned, You hate being "penned" in the playroom - all those toys just aren't enough for your need to roam. When you are tired you put your head down on the ground. You love reading books, clapping and banging toys together and creeping around the room. Scotia knows you are coming with your happy screeching. Crawling and pulling up seem to be enough for you for now so I'm not willing to predict when you'll be taking your first independent steps. We would prefer that you didn't knock your sister down or pull up in the bathtub. Everything is funny to you - it lights up our day.

Dear Penny, Two huge milestones this month - you learned to crawl and you weighed in over 15 lbs today (15lbs, 4 oz to be exact). We love the shrieks of joy you shout after dinner and the constant babbling. You have so much concentration and curiosity about the little details in objects. You love to hand us whatever you are playing with so we can join in the fun. Your dad and I keep remarking how grown up you look to us!

Love, Mommy, Esq.